JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Congressman Rick Crawford is taking a new approach to speed up the completion of Interstate 555 from Jonesboro to Interstate 55 in Crittenden County.
According to a news release Thursday, Crawford has begun talks with Alec Farmer, the new head of the Arkansas Highway Commission, to move this project forward.
There is currently a 3-mile stretch that spans the St. Francis Floodway that requires an access road. Without that road, farm equipment and some heavy vehicles, like dump trucks, would have to take a 90-mile detour.
AHTD has said an access road could cost up to $50 million.
To avoid this, Crawford plans to write legislation that would exempt certain vehicles from some of the weight-limit restrictions that are imposed once a highway is designated an interstate.
"If we are successful in securing this language in the upcoming highway reauthorization bill, we could save up to $50 million while not materially affecting the manner in which traffic crosses the floodway today," said Congressman Crawford. "Director Scott Bennett and the professional staff at the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department have been very helpful in assisting us in finding a way to move forward with the I-555 designation while saving scarce taxpayer dollars. "
Commissioner Farmer said he is looking forward to collaborating with Crawford on this project.
"I appreciate Congressman Crawford's interest in ensuring highway dollars are spent wisely while also making certain that an important economic development, Interstate 555, for Northeast Arkansas is realized as quickly as possible," Farmer said.
Congressman Crawford is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over the highway reauthorization bill.
Either a full reauthorization of the highway bill, or an extension, will be passed by Congress by May 31, 2015.